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2 Lawmakers Try to Curb Trump's Ability to Start a War

Democrats worried about his rhetoric against North Korea
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2017 8:06 AM CDT
2 Lawmakers Try to Curb Trump's Ability to Start a War
It's still unclear whether President Trump will visit the DMZ between North and South Korea on his Asia trip.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – President Trump and Kim Jong Un have not traded public threats of late, but it's still been a busy week in terms of North Korean developments. Defense chief James Mattis visited the DMZ, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sees a potential ally in India, and two Democratic lawmakers aim to put a check on the president's ability to lash out militarily. Meanwhile, the president has a big trip to Asia next week with North Korea as the No. 1 focus. Developments:

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  • A check on Trump: Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation to prevent Trump from launching a nuclear strike without authorization from Congress. It has little chance of passing unless Republicans join the effort, but Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Ed Markey say it at least focuses attention on an important issue, reports the Guardian. "As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we must ensure that he cannot start a war," says Markey.
  • Mattis at DMZ: Defense chief Mattis visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Friday and emphasized diplomacy. "Our goal is not war," he said, per Reuters. Mattis has been meeting with Asian defense chiefs this week, with the goal of keeping the North Korea situation "firmly in the diplomatic lane for resolution," as he puts it.
  • India can help? The US has been pushing nations to cut ties with North Korea, but India still maintains a small embassy there. Secretary of State Tillerson, currently in India for talks, put a positive spin on that, saying the embassy could be a "conduit for communications" with Pyongyang. Separately, NPR has a longer piece on Tillerson's outreach to India, seen as a valuable counterbalance to China in the region.

  • Trump to DMZ? Trump's 12-day trip to Asia begins next Friday, and the big unknown is whether he will visit the DMZ himself. USA Today offers a preview of the trip's schedule so far, which includes a golf outing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and golf star Hideki Matsuyama. More seriously, Trump said Thursday that he intends to press Chinese leader Xi Jinping to crack down on shipments of fentanyl to the US as a way to ease the opioids crisis. "And he will do something about it," said Trump, per the Chicago Tribune.
  • Taiwan friction: Perhaps another line of discussion between Trump and Xi: Taiwanese Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen leaves Saturday on a trip to Pacific Island allies, and China isn't happy that she'll be stopping in Honolulu and Guam en route. Beijing has called on the US to bar her entry and abide by its "one China" policy, per Reuters. That's unlikely to happen. Trump previously angered China by accepting a call from Tsai.
  • Diplomat's warning: NBC News reports that a top US diplomat to North Korea has been warning lawmakers on Capitol Hill that rhetoric between Trump and North Korea's Kim has put diplomatic efforts "in peril." Joseph Yun has been seeking help to keep the White House in check.
  • Muscle flexing: In response to North Korea's threats, the US now has three carrier strike groups operating in the Pacific for the first time since 2007, reports CNBC. Defense analysts say if the US wanted to launch a pre-emptive strike, it could do so with these forces.
(Read more North Korea stories.)

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